Analysis of an Apparel Design Process
Jockey International is an established Men's and Women's wear underwear company with Internationally licensee in 130 countries and Domestic whole sale business in which it has direct creative influence. Aside from the underwear, shape wear business Jockey has recently launched a direct sales business for women's sportswear sold in the United States and Canada. Within the last decade there has been a shift in the rate of response for fashion to have a better response to the market in order to remain competitive. The rise of the internet has changed the way people consume and has served as an alternative retail landscapethat has enabled smaller businesses to gain market entry with rapid pace. This disruption has pressured Jockey International to compete creatively in a fast moving industry. In fashion, time is everything and the objective of any successful company is managing deadline, quality, margins/cost and the ultimately the result of a winning range of products that is well received by the consumer. As an active design participant Ilike to reveal the challenges of a linear, top down management style has a direct impact specifically in the sportswear side of the business. In general the right hire is important. It is in adequate for an intimate specialist to manage sportswear as the categories are too far from relating to one another. Second, designers executing the line needs to have singular clear business objectives and to work with necessary partners to articulate vision and provide meaningful exchanges.
I would like to reveal how conversation and collaboration can ultimately achieve better results in meeting company's objectives through a comparison of a before and after model. Design Service serves as an umbrella to all creative needs within the Jockey company. The current model shows Design Service operating separately from the P2P business unit. Design service work amongst its own team members and shares its vision with the business unit in formal directed meetings with little transparency, which makes any negotiation or improvement to achieve better end goal impossible. Hence, no insight can be made by the business unit side whether something is too costly nor can they give feedback whether Design is on course with it's business objectives to what the consumer is asking and whether the garments in development meets margin. What ends up happening is by the time a formal meeting occurs the first cost of the garment reveals the garment is off target. As a result unjustly modification is requested to the design of the garment to keep cost down or in some cases no change can be made to impact improvement to the garment due to timing. These types of situation could be easily avoided if the necessary conversation were to have taken place early on-set of the design stage versus at a formal scheduled meeting.
The current vertical chain of hierarchy is inefficient requiring decisions to slowly go through many people along the vertical chain of command before actions can be made by those who need permission to act. The vertical organizational structures create boundaries between departments allowing in-efficient communication and hence the message ends up getting muddled or in-correctly interpreted hence execution is not done with accuracy. By eliminating top/middle management in design service allows more direct communication from the sportswear designers and grant more authority in decision making to apply necessary changes in real-time that is in alignment with business objectives. This can help improve communication, remove inefficient bureaucratic steps, reduce unnecessary work and speed up the design process.
Currently, design and Jockey P2P department with their specific roles and responsibilities working on the same collection lack shared mental model to achieve insights to reach a common end goal. This is contributed by a silo-ed working condition which leaves very little room to navigate through the day to day change that is taking place. A unification of one core objective from senior executive paired with more horizontal communication between departments enables team members to learn from each other in order to co-create or collaborate towards the same objective which is to offer best range of products, within margin points delivered by a specific target deadline. With changes come endless negotiations and/or compromises that takes place along the way between designers, merchandisers and product team members. The middle diagram labeled 'The Improvement' is an example to illustrate an example of meaningful exchange to happen in real-time not one or two months meeting spaced out when rapid proto-types are far in completion within the development stage. Participant A and B converse at two levels about goals and about the means to achieve them as indicated in the upper and lower quadrant. Each participant will converse, provide feedback as part of an ongoing collaboration, participants may perpetuate trade-offs over a period of time and situations to improve bio-cost in partnership to achieve each of their own objectives while maintaining bigger-goal set by the General Business Manager for the Brand.
A proposal to improve the current model is integrate the sportswear design team to work within the Jockey P2P business unit. By cutting the two design layers eliminates the disjointedness that is currently taken place. There were too many different messages given hence promoted the unnecessary confusion that stirred inefficiency and much added bio-cost to the work load of the design team. It is important that all members executing towards the same objective speaks and understand the same 'language' and the elimination of mis-understanding and agreement is to be avoided. It is important to have one core business objective understood by all departments within Jockey P2P sportswear business. A call for information transparency through open dialogue between necessary the team members allow better insight to improve the design and development process. The agreement of goals and actions built over time amongst collaborators with trusting relationship helps operate more efficiently in hopes to reduce bio-cost, enhance energy to focus on new opportunities and growth of the business .